TULALIP — Pam Blount sat in her car outside the headstone maker’s office for 20 minutes, wiping at tears and working up the nerve to go inside.
“I want it to be perfect,” Blount said. “I want something I think she would like, something she’d be proud of.”
Blount’s only daughter, Jessica Jones, was shot to death April 8, 2014, in an Arlington garage. She was flown to a Seattle hospital where Blount was told that her eldest child was brain dead. Jones died the next day after life-support measures were removed. She was 25.
Family and friends packed the Tulalip Tribal Gym a week later to remember Jones. She was buried at the Mission Beach Cemetery, near her large Tulalip family.
The slain woman’s boyfriend was arrested a month after the killing. He is accused of shooting Jones during an argument. Police were told that he had abused and threatened Jones in the past. He is charged with second-degree murder and scheduled to go to trial this fall.
Now, Blount finds herself raising money to buy a headstone for her daughter.
The Tulalip Tribes helped pay for burial costs and the state’s Crime Victim Compensation fund helped pay the medical bills.
Blount expected that the state fund also would help pay for the headstone. She received a call last month, a few days after picking out the marker, informing her that she’d missed a deadline by a week and she wouldn’t be receiving assistance. The fund gives families a year to choose a marker.
She said it’s not realistic to expect families to be in a place to make those kinds of decisions within the first year. The shock of losing someone to violence is overwhelming. Blount, 49, finds herself forgetting things. She had nightmares until the suspect was arrested. “I have my good days and some pretty bad days,” she said.
It took Blount about six months to start thinking about choosing a headstone. She settled on a large angel embracing a heart. She’s picked out a poem and a photo of her girl.
Blount is raising her daughter’s 8-year-old son. He had drawn a picture of a tulip and told his grandmother to hold onto it if she felt like crying. A copy of the tulip will be etched next to the words, “You are my sunshine.”
“I’ve been trying to find the right words,” Blount said. “I want it to be one-of-a-kind.”
She visits her daughter’s gravesite. For now its decorated with small statues of an angel and a bird. Jones’ aunt and uncle planted a rhododendron. Blount brought her grandson there on Mother’s Day. He’s a good boy, who likes to draw and looks up to his uncle. They talk baseball and basketball.
Blount has been caring for the boy since he was an infant. His mom wasn’t in his life much. Jones couldn’t find a way out of her addiction. She tried over the years, getting clean here and there.
“She was my best friend until she started using drugs. We were inseparable. The drugs changed her,” Blount said.
Addiction eats away at relationships. Boundaries were made to protect the boy. Jones would call her mom for cigarettes, food or clothes. Blount would beg her to quit.
Last year, when she received the call that Jones was being rushed to a hospital, Blount immediately thought drugs had finally claimed her daughter.
She collapsed when she saw Jones in the hospital bed. She had not told her mom about the violence or the threats.
“Love and hug your kids every day. You just never know what can happen,” Blount said.
The Arlington woman is left with memories of the little girl who was sassy and funny and loved her grandma’s dumpling soup.
Blount wants to honor those memories and her daughter.
“She deserves it,” she said.
How to help
Pam Blount is raising money to buy her daughter a headstone. Jessica Jones was shot to death April 8. 2014. Donations can be made to the fund-raising site YouCaring.